Thursday, November 1, 2012

Squirely Squirrels!

Wow! Harvest Day is over all ready! Doesn’t the time fly? Now that we’ve entered November, a lot of people will finally be taking down those Halloween decorations (thank goodness!) and we’ll be setting up for Thanksgiving. Now unlike Halloween, I do celebrate Thanksgiving. So that’s what we will be celebrating in exactly: 22 days! It’s rounding the corner fast, isn’t it? Election Day is coming up, and Christmas isn’t that long of a wait either: only 55 days till Christmas is here. What fun!
Anyway, enough about holidays! I'm sure some of you are wondering what’s going on with my latest stop-motion film in the Animal Face-off Series: Elephant vs. Rhino. Well, I’d say it’s about 91% or so completed. I expect to have it finished anytime between now and the 15th. So stay tuned to see which animal can beat the stuff out of the other one!

By the way, some people have complained that putting comments of the blog is hard to figure out how to do it. So if you wish to put a comment (which I'd highly recommend), simply

  1. Click on the title of the post you'd like to leave a comment on
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page
  3. Type in what you wish to say in the comment box
  4. Then in the box below where you just typed, enter one of the following to comment as
  5. Next, click preview
  6. After this, if you are not signed into to Blogspot, you will be asked to type in a word and a number, do so in the box where it says to do so (put a space between the word and the number)
I hope this has been helpful! Please send me your comments (it really helps when it comes to improving this blog!).

No doubt, if you live up North, you’ve seen one animal in particular getting ready for the winter (if you live in North America, Europe or northern Asia of course). You know what animal I’m talking about – the little furry animals outside with bushy tails, buckteeth and a craving for nuts. Yes, I’m talking about squirrels. Squirrels are everywhere this time of year! Right now they are gathering up nuts to store for winter. But there’s a lot more to squirrels than what meets the eye! Let’s check them out!

A Grey Squirrel on the ground
The squirrels we commonly see in cities and towns of North America are called Sciurus carolinesis, or Grey Squirrels. Grey Squirrels can be grey, but they are also red, tan and sometimes blackish! Go figure! These little mammals grow about 1 ½ feet long and weigh 1-2 pounds. Grey Squirrels are diurnal (which means they come out in the daytime), like most squirrels. While they are quite agile climbers, they often spend a good bit of time on the ground searching for nuts that they save for later. Other than nuts, they also feed on fruits, seeds, nuts and bark.

As we all know, Grey Squirrels burry nuts underground to save them for later. And sometimes, squirrels will forget about a few of them so they have the chance to grow into mighty trees. (Learn more about nuts and other seeds in my other post, “We’reNuts for Nuts”) Squirrels also sleep for a majority of the winter months in a nest called a drey, but they don’t “hibernate” in a sense. Instead, they merely take long dozes and wake up every so often to munch on food before going back to bed. Also, if the weather, gets a warm spell, don’t be surprised to see a few squirrels leaping about in the branches looking for food.

A Grey Squirrel in a tree
The Grey Squirrel is what we think of when we think about squirrels, but there are LOTS of other species of squirrels, most of which you’ve probably never heard of! The Sciurus vulgaris, or Red Squirrels are squirrels also live in North America and Eurasia. The difference between Red and Grey Squirrels is not their color, as they can both be red, brown, grey, black or grey-brown in the winter. . There is a difference between Red Squirrels in Eurasia and the ones in North America, and even an amateur can easily tell the difference: Eurasians have tufts on their ears while the others don’t.

A Eurasian Red Squirrel eating a nut
An American Red Squirrel
Eurasian Red Squirrels can get 8-10 inches long and weigh 7-17 ounces. They are normally diurnal. Red Squirrels commonly feed on nuts, buds, mushrooms, bark, fungi, shoots and conifer seeds. The female Red Squirrels give birth to 2-5 blind, and bald babies which she nurses for 12 weeks. The drey the babies lie in is a larger version of the “hibernation” drey that’s lined with soft material to keep the babies warm while mom’s away. Of course, Eurasian Red Squirrels live in Eurasia, but a new guy has moved into town – the Red Squirrels cousin, the Grey Squirrel has moved onto the block and is causing a whole bunch of trouble! But more about that later, first here are some other species of squirrels found around the world, and no, they all don’t have bushy tails, live up north or have nut-cravings:

Indian Palm Squirrel
Giant Squirrel
Prevost's Squirrel
Cape Ground Squirrel
Fox Squirrel
Western Grey Squirrel
As you can see, there are lots of types of squirrels. One bizarre type of squirrel is none other than the Cape Ground Squirrel (above). As its name suggests, it lives on the ground in the Kalahari Desert of Africa. These cute little guys are a lot tougher than they look, and there is something they do that helps them survive: they work as a team! God made these guys to not only survive, but thrive in the desert.

More on Cape Squirrels later though! There’s another species of squirrel that’s really bizarre, it’s unlike any other species of squirrel. To cross long distances, most squirrels have to climb down from the trees and scurry across the ground. But God gave one squirrel a radical solution, this squirrel is none other than (drum roll please) . . . the Flying Squirrel!
A Flying Squirrel, normally they don't fly in the daytime though
See the Flying Squirrel's big eyes?
Despite its name, the Flying Squirrel can’t really fly, it actually glides. The only mammals that can fly are bats (learn more about them in “WE’RE BATTY FOR BATS”). They can only get into the air after having leapt from a place high up, in a tree for instance. But these squirrels can really glide with accuracy. One squirrel can glide to the left from one tree, and another squirrel gliding from the same location can land on a tree to the right. One species of squirrel, called the Giant Flying Squirrel, can glide an astounding over 1,300 feet before it lands on another tree! (But we’ll just talk about the flying squirrel of North America today) Unlike animals that fly, Flying Squirrels glide on flaps of skin that go from their arms to their ankles. This is an airfoil shape that allows the fall of the squirrel to be delayed so it can stay in the air much longer and glide safely to another tree. Unlike most squirrels, the Flying Squirrel is nocturnal, this is because it isn’t quick enough in the air to escape birds of prey. This is why God gave these animals great big eyes to see in the dark.

Now, let’s learn a bit about how Eurasian Red Squirrels are in trouble because of their Grey cousins. The Red Squirrels were already in trouble due to deforestation and pets such as dogs and cats (which is a good reason never to let cats out, I have others, but I’ll save them for another time), but as if that weren’t bad enough, more trouble came. Grey Squirrels were taken to Eurasia from North America, and some got loose. Now they are bullying their Red cousins. How? Well, both species of squirrels like a lot of the same things: big trees, places to find food, and places to raise young. Now Grey Squirrels are nearly twice the size of the Red Squirrels, need more food, and have more babies. So with trees being cut down, there are less trees so the Grey Squirrels are taking many of the few trees that remain. And also, Grey Squirrels carry a disease they are immune to, but Red Squirrels have no immunity to this disease, and it’s deadly! So long story short: Grey Squirrels are doing great in Eurasia, and Red Squirrels are in a little pickle (or nuttle?). Now how can the Red Squirrels be saved from extinction?

This little guy is so cute! He's a sleeping baby Red Squirrel.
Well, when trouble strikes, people groups in Europe come to rescue baby squirrels and nurture them up. The babies are fed milk, and are cared for until they are big enough to look after themselves. They also take in sick or injured squirrels and tell people living around the areas about Red Squirrels so they can support “squirrel groups” to help the Red Squirrels. Many of these groups are also keeping Grey Squirrels out of places where some Red Squirrels live and saving forests where Grey Squirrels are not a problem. So with a little work, perhaps the Red Squirrels of Eurasia will be safe once again!

Thanks for stopping by today to get all “squirrely”!  Please check back next week to stay up-to-date on the progress of the stop-motion film and get more nature bits! See you next time!

PS: Have a puzzling question about, animals (including dinosaurs), myself, my latest book, “THE KING ON A CROSS”, Creation, nature or etc? Post your question as a comment or send me an email to

PS 2: Please help expand our wiki: Exploration Books Pedia, and it's free!

No comments:

Post a Comment